The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week gave conditional approval to planners of a new camp proposed for Coralville Lake, between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Ron Fournier with the Rock Island district of the Corps of Engineers explains the federal government owns the land, where an old Girl Scout camp once stood…and any new user had to fit the same description.They’re looking at nonprofit organizations that will build a group recreational camp. A group of area residents came up with a proposal to build a Muslim Youth camp, centered on recreation and religious education for area kids and families. The Corps went out asking for organizations that would build something to replace the burned-down scout camp, and this group came forward for the Corps has been reviewing its plan and doing an environmental assessment for four years. Once the group came up with a detailed plan, Fournier says the Corps looked it over and told the group it was too big for the roads, water and other infrastructure in the area and they’d have to cut the ambitious plan in half. The group will work with the corps to reduce the size of their proposal by 50-percent and once that’s approved by the commander, the Corps would negotiate a lease for the property. Since the plan has gained attention in some news reports, Fournier says reaction has been coming in to the agency. He says almost more than you could count, though the corps has found the concerns of local residents are over size and infrastructure, and an Iowa City grassroots group as well as all the out-of-state comments are negative based just on anti-Muslim sentiment.
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